Memories are the only method mankind has of time-travel. The days of your youth are deeply embedded in your psyche, revisiting your old haunts as an adult helps to lay to rest a few unsolved issues.
Yesterday (June 7th) I was invited along with my friend David Mayes in a mentor capacity at a workshop held at our old special needs school Ashfield by the East Midlands Care-adviser Yvonne Julien . Attending the workshop were 5 boys aged 15 to 16 with Duchenne MD, the workshop was predominantly focused on gaining independence, future opportunities available after college & empowerment.
I left Ashfield School 7 years ago to attend college; it was a terrifying and confusing time for me to make my first major decision. I was worried that I would be unable to keep up with the college workload & lacked confidence by viewing myself as less intelligent as my able-bodied peers. At this period if I met an older boy with Duchenne who accomplished a lot in his life after college it would have empowered me.
Going back as a mentor was a cathartic experience, I was there as someone I would never imagine I would ever turn into. The next generation are really important as they need to keep on pushing disability awareness & change society. The boys were really receptive and much more confident then I was at that age.
We spoke to them about taking personal responsibility of your Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and not rely heavily on your parents making decisions so that in the future when you start needing care you can confidently articulate your needs. The road to independence is a difficult one, the relationship between my Mum and I has changed from dependence to a friendship. Deciding to be mentally separate from your parents is crucial to build confidence to decide your future.
I introduced them to MDUK and Trailblazers, how being part of a community can help you to not feel alone, discover solutions to problems you face or making your voice heard. I wanted to give the boys a little taster to what is possible in the future. For example, the work experience I did through the MDUK office in London, my blogging, being a co-editor of Muscle Owl and the other opportunities that found me after college.
The talk finished off by reminding the boys to pursue an avenue that they feel passionate about, be it wheelchair sports, singing, acting, writing, video gaming (as David mentioned) or anything else. Personally, the reason I left university was because I was not enjoying it & thought it was the only future option available at the time. Life is something that needs to be enjoyed.
I wish the boys the best luck in life and I’d be intrigued to see which door they choose.
ONWARDS & UPWARDS!